This year’s January transfer window has been rather quiet so far, with clubs clearly looking to avoid shelling out huge sums on players that might not meet expectations.
Transfer fees have risen hugely over the past few years, meaning clubs have to be even more careful when bringing in reinforcements, while looking to keep a handle on their budget.
Here we look back at some of the biggest-ever Premier League transfer flops.
5) Jack Rodwell – Everton to Manchester City (August 2012 – £11.3m).
Rodwell joined Everton’s youth academy at the age of seven and he showed incredible promise, earning his Under-18s debut at 14 and turning out for the reserve team a year later.
He became the youngest player to make a senior appearance for the Toffees in Europe when earning his debut at the age of 16 years and 284 days, coming off the bench against AZ Alkmaar.
The midfielder’s bow in the Premier League came on March 9, 2008 and he started to earn more regular game-time with the first team in 2009-09.
His development continued within David Moyes’ squad and it wasn’t long until Manchester City, who are
8/15 favourites to win the Premier League this season, came knocking for one of England’s brightest young talents.
The Citizens parted with a fee of £11.3million but he struggled for regular action at the Etihad and turned out just 11 times in the league during 2012-13, starting six matches.
With a plethora of talent available to Manuel Pellegrini at the time, Rodwell found it difficult to impose himself and he departed for Sunderland at the end of the following campaign with just a further five league outings under his belt.
4) Danny Drinkwater – Leicester to Chelsea – (September 2017 – £35m).
Drinkwater started his career on Manchester United’s books but after failing to make the grade and following a succession of loan stints, he eventually moved away from Old Trafford when Leicester offered him terms in 2012.
He spent three seasons in the Championship with the Foxes before they earned promotion to the top flight in 2014-15.
Leicester’s story was only just starting to take shape then and Drinkwater played a full part as the Foxes went on to sensationally defy the odds and win the Premier League title in 2015-16.
His influence during that historic season led to England recognition and subsequently convinced Chelsea, who are
5/4 for a Top 4 finish this term, to hand over £35million in September 2017.
The 30-year-old made 22 appearances across all competitions during his debut season at Stamford Bridge but has only turned out once over the following two.
Loan spells at Burnley and Aston Villa have also proved unsuccessful but he has another chance to get his career back on track after recently signing on loan with Turkish outfit Kasimpasa until the end of 2020-21.
3) Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal to Manchester United – (January 2018 – Swap deal).
Despite arriving at Old Trafford as part of a swap deal, which saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan move in the other direction, Sanchez still has to be regarded as one of the biggest flops in Premier League history.
Due to the fact that there was no transfer fee involved, United reportedly agreed to hand over an eye-watering £391,000-per-week salary with £75,000 in related appearance bonuses and a £1.1million annual bonus on top.
The Chilean was hugely successful at Arsenal, scoring 80 goals in 166 appearances and becoming their standout player during a three-and-a-half-year stay at the Emirates
But the forward failed to find those levels with the Red Devils, who beat Manchester City to the deal in January 2018, netting five goals in 45 outings.
With things clearly not working for the former Barcelona ace in Manchester, Inter Milan offered him a route out on loan in 2019-20 and he made his switch to the San Siro permanent in August 2020.
2) Eliaquim Mangala – Porto to Manchester City – (August 2014 – £40.5m).
Pellegrini was looking to revamp his defence at the Etihad in the summer of 2014 and he went big on rising star Mangala.
Porto have a reputation for driving a hard sale and they managed to squeeze over £40million out of the Premier League club for the relatively unproven centre-back.
Mangala’s debut in the Premier League ended in a 1-1 draw against Chelsea, with BBC Sport describing his performance as “colossal”.
However, just six days later he scored an own goal and conceded a penalty against Hull in a sign of the type of performance that would come more to define his time at the club.
Inconsistency was a major issue and, after loan spells at Valenica and Everton, he finally ended his time at City with a permanent switch to Los Che in August 2019, leaving for free.
1) Fernando Torres – Liverpool to Chelsea – (January 2011 – £50million).
Torres landed in the Premier League in the summer of 2007 and he was an immediate hit on Merseyside, bagging 33 goals in 46 appearances during his debut campaign.
He continued to light up the English top flight and quickly became a club legend, although his reputation with the Anfield faithful became tainted when he agreed to join rivals Chelsea for £50million in January 2011.
Liverpool fans had the last laugh, however, as the World Cup winner failed to settle in west London and completely lost his confidence.
His statistics tell the story of his demise in Blue. After scoring a hugely-impressive 81 goals in 142 appearances for Liverpool, he registered only 45 for Chelsea – and just 20 in the Premier League – in 172 outings in total.
*All odds correct at time of writing.